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Beware of health advice from Dr. Google

curious grocery store shopper

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other night, enjoying a few minutes of toddler-free time after I put my daughter to bed.

And like usual, I see some odd things on Facebook – a listicle of “18 things you need if you’re not a morning person” (of course I clicked on that one); an ad for cheap athleisure wear; a video recipe for Buddha bowls, which look to me like a salad with an Instagram-friendly name.

Another strange post that caught my eye was an offer for a glyphosate toxicity test. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, a common weed-control product used in agriculture that’s also available for lawn and garden use at home improvement stores.

I did a little internet sleuthing to figure out what is a glyphosate toxicity test. Apparently, it’s a urine (or breastmilk) test to determine if there is glyphosate in your body.

The suggestion is that glyphosate ends up in our bodies either from the environment or through the foods we eat. And supposedly, if we eat an (expensive) organic or “detoxifying” diet, we can rid our bodies of glyphosate.

Social media loves scary “click-bait” food headlines. So a new tactic by activist groups is to report that our favorite foods – such as Cheerios and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – test positive for glyphosate.

What they don’t tell you is how they conduct the tests - or that the levels of glyphosate they possibly detect are incredibly small, measuring at parts per billion.

The best description I found to describe parts per billion is it’s equal to one grain of salt in 10 tons of potato chips.

In other words, you would have to eat literally tons of potato chips – or 44,999 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream – for glyphosate to inch closer to “toxic” levels in our bodies.

As tempting as it is to woof down a pint of ice cream in one sitting, even a competitive eater can’t polish off tens of thousands of pints.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducts extensive safety tests to determine the maximum level of chemical residues that our food can contain and still be safe. All of the foods the activists tested were well below EPA safe levels.

Research shows that conventional foods are just as safe and nutritious as organic foods.

Major health organizations, including the American Cancer Society, also recommend eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether it’s conventionally or organically grown.

So whether or not you buy organic comes down to personal choice. I’m on a tight budget, so I buy whatever is the best deal. However, I also have a few organic items, like my favorite cereal and my daughter’s mac ‘n cheese, in my pantry.

For me, it’s more important to focus on nutrition: Is this cereal providing the essential nutrients my family needs?

If you have questions about your health, such as whether you need to be tested for glyphosate toxicity, then please talk to your doctor – and I don’t mean “Dr. Google.”

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is Iowa Farm Bureau's Senior Features Writer.



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